LT Lindberg’s The Lost Ones is a YA Fantasy tale that deals with notions of privilege, control, and responsibility. It opens with its female protagonist, Cayla, who’s stuck at an institution for troubled youth, in part because she believes that she’s from another world.
Cayla is in something of a Catch-22: Forsake belief in her origin story as a notion of lunacy and she must still obediently take her psychoactive medication and remain at the facility until she comes of age. Mrs. Rosin, the hospital’s principal administrator, has taken a keen dislike to the strange girl and is determined to retain her at the asylum.
Meanwhile, Bren arrives via a portal hidden in a nearby forest, and immediately enters the facility masquerading as a nurse. Cue some humor, with Bren telling everyone he’s from Europe – which in part explains his strange accent. Yet he seems to know little about the Old Country.
Bren’s covert mission, unbeknownst to his fellow orderlies, is to rescue Cayla and return her to her homeland, again via transport through a portal. According to the rules of flight, Cayla must remember certain things by herself about her place of origin before she can make the journey back with Bren. However, enemies are closing in; after more than one assassination attempt by otherworldly creatures that are not-quite-right and deliciously jarring, the two flee.
Cayla is finally vindicated about everything she believed regarding her origins from another realm. Bren and Cayla ultimately travel from Earth to this kingdom where Cayla discovers that she is the last existing Finder, a being whose skill in locating people and things makes her the perfect candidate to search for four elemental lords (of fire, water, earth and wind) whose kidnappings spell the end of the world. She had been sent to Earth at the age of seven in order to protect her life and identity as a Finder. Dealing with feelings of betrayal and abandonment on her return to her realm of origin, having spent more than half her life on the wrong side of the psychiatric and childcare systems on Earth, Cayla also has to navigate new social norms and etiquette as she learns the history and myths surrounding what will become the mission to find the elemental lords.
Bren and Cayla set off on a journey that is both physically arduous and emotionally harrowing. Still learning things about each other, the newly-bonded couple – with Bren taking the role of protector-husband to Cayla’s finder-wife – must navigate across a landscape under threat from an amorphous and deadly Shadow that is spreading like a cancer across their world. Can they stop the Shadow and the ambitious villain behind it?